Chichester fabric firm has timeless style

Anna in a retro camera-print apron
Anna in a retro camera-print apron

RETRO accessories blend with quirky fabrics at a Chichester business which is booming, as the trend for vintage-inspired style goes from strength to strength.

Anna Hodgson and her team at the Eternal Maker are showcasing a timeless style which is an inspiration for sewing fans across the county – and far beyond.

Threads at the Eternal Maker

Threads at the Eternal Maker

Anna and her team have reinvented their industrial warehouse at 41 Terminus Road, transforming the original old commercial vehicle depot into an inviting and colourful emporium packed with beautiful fabrics for patchwork, dressmaking, crafting and creative projects for the home.

Anna, who makes her own clothes and looks gorgeous in a tangerine and cream lace dress reminiscent of a 1960s-style shift dress, loves to use the fabrics and range of patterns on offer at the shop for her own look. “I often get stopped in the street and asked about where my dresses and skirts come from,” she says brightly.

The Eternal Maker’s enduring appeal makes it perfect for those keen to create their own outfit for Goodwood Revival, and other vintage-themed events.

Most of the fabrics stocked are printed cottons and recently Anna introduced a pretty organic cotton range.

“Our cotton prints are great for making those big 1950s-style skirts,” she recommends. “A lot of the prints are really retro designs so they work nicely too and many of our fabrics are a panel print, ideal for making skirts trimmed with an eye catching deep border.”

Anna explains 1930s and 
40s fashions are all possible too, as ‘we also have a lot of heavier-weight linen blends that are ideal for a more structured look’.

“Many prints that we do are vintage inspired and they are really interesting designs to look at.”

Fabrics with classic cars, motorbikes and even aircraft are displayed so the range can be suitable for custom-made menswear, too.

“The Eternal Maker imports a lot of modern kitsch Japanese prints, they are quite rare to find and wonderfully weird,” says Anna, who likes to use these to make skirts that make a statement. The voluminous fabric shop offers a tempting range of haberdashery and accompaniments and has kits for sewing and crafting.

A major feature is the fantastic button section, all made by The Button Company, which is owned by Anna’s mother Sarah Hodgson.

Sarah started her business and the family venture into retail 12 years ago.

“The Button Company is one of the only businesses that manufactures buttons in the UK,” says Anna, who works closely with her mother and together they use their complementary skills to lead both companies to success. “Being adaptable is really important: If I didn’t change things sometimes, we wouldn’t be here.”

She describes her role as ‘adding creativity and beauty to the world. I enable people to develop and create!’ Anna is an entrepreneur who has combined her experience working in London as a buyer in the garment trade with her vision and good commercial instincts.

“Many of the girls we have here were previous customers and they loved it so much they wanted to work with us. We have a nice enthusiastic team that are all makers themselves. This means they understand what people want, which I think is essential.”

Sales manager at the Eternal Maker, Rachel Chalcraft describes how ‘adding our special vintage colour buttons to brooches, pins and jackets is one way to customise a classic outfit’.

Rachel adds: “Customers buy our wool felt to make flat caps and hats. We sell lots of ribbons and trimmings to make fascinators. Altering second-hand and vintage outfits is also popular.”

The ladies at the Eternal Maker often help people select suitable materials, so customers can achieve original clothes that fit them perfectly, and the team also give advice on making the right accessory, for example a matching clutch bag.

“The key can be really small things like the finishing touches for your hair and make-up. Making a scarf to put in your hair does not take much effort and can save you having an expensive hairdo!”

However, Anna says: “I had my hair curled professionally throughout the Goodwood Vintage festival. I liked how the victory rolls really made a difference.

“So once you have made your outfit, treat yourself at the hairdressers and you will feel fabulous!”

The ‘make do and mend’ trend keeps the Eternal Maker shop busy. “We run a whole variety of sewing and crafting classes in our classroom area,” she adds. “Our current class is machine-embroidered lampshade-making.” The website has more information and details about events at the shop this autumn.

In the pipeline are new exciting retail concepts and additional ranges. When asked about her dreams for the future, Anna says: “I would like to open a string of Eternal Maker shops.”

With Anna and her talented makers, surely this will just be a matter of time.